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  1. #1

    Default West Coast to East Coast Canada, down & then back.

    New here & happy to have found a forum. I have had so many questions relating to my upcoming road trip & have not had much luck getting answers.
    I am leaving in less then a month for my "Epic American Roadtrip". With me will be my two dear friends and each of our three children. This is a 7 week long adventure that I have planned out to a fare-thee-well. I definitely don't want to be so structured that we miss things due to lack of spontaneity but the truth is you can't be to spontaneous with 3 moms & 9 children - finding lodging for 7 weeks can't be left up to chance!
    So I think I have provided a structure that lets us relax & be confident in the important details but gives us freedom to do spur of the moment activities.

    We will be spending about half our time on the East Coast. Staying anywhere from 2 - 5 nights in or most desired locations. Our first long stop on East Coast Is P.E.I.

    Here is my first question...Passports: We have gotten 2 different stories & guidelines for children traveling with one parent.
    1. We need notarized letter from other parent saying we have permission to travel.
    2. We need notarized letter plus copy of other parents passport? ( When I decided to do this my husband didn't get passport as he wasn't going) If this is the case we will need to expedite his as we just heard this new info.

    Next question:
    When in Hudson River Valley is it practical to think we can take a train to Penn Station do a city tour and head back on train to Hudson? I know I can schedule this but just wonder if this really works? Children are 10-14

    Next question:
    When in Williamsburg is it feasible to due PA activities as a day drive? We are in Williamsburg for a week and would like to use it as a hub and travel out from there.

    I know I am asking a lot as a newcomer so thank you, thank you, thank you, in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I have never heard of any suggestion for a copy of a passport in addition to a consent letter. Frankly, that's not something that makes a lot of sense to me, although directly contacting immigration/customs officials would be your best bet to be 100% sure.

    Of course, if your kids don't have passports, you'll need official copies of their birth certificates, generally that means a raised seal.

    Hudson to NYC is more than 2 hours via Amtrak. You could potentially do that as a daytrip, but herding that many kids, and losing nearly 5 hours out of your day just getting too/from the city might be pushing things too much.

    What have you planned in Eastern Canada? I just spent the past 2 weeks in the Atlantic Provinces and had a fantastic time.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Midwest Michael!
    Yes, we all have passports but none of the husbands got them because they weren't going. We just heard this info & are now faced with getting expedited passports for husbands too. Not a huge deal but wanted to throw it out there to see what others knew.
    The Hudson advice was exactly what I was looking for. While many things are theoretically possible not all are practical. The one thing I will say is that these are extremely well behaved kids who won't have any issues being hearded around :-). I just don't know how else to see NY with that many. Our only stay is in the Hudson River Valley for 3 nights then we head to South.

    Eastern Canada is all P.E.I. due to my love of Lucy Maud Montgomery & my children's. We do have flexibility there. I can add or subtract according to what we want to see.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Sometimes with that many kids and adults, it might make sense to break up into small groups. This is especially true in museums and places where two or three might want to see Exhibit A, but the rest aren't interested and want to see Exhibit B instead, which the A group doesn't want to see. They wouldn't even need to be with their own parent; you could switch kids for certain activities.

    If this were me, I'd definitely be making a phone call to Immigration/Customs. I had never heard of the requirement for a copy of the husband's passport (that's a worry about Identity Theft, right there), only for the official birth certificates and a letter from him stating that it's okay for the kids to be traveling with just mom.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Other Experiences

    My wife and I have traveled with our daughter and two grandchildren back and forth to Canada a couple of times, both times without our son-in-law - once crossing by car and once by plane. On the first occasion we went to the trouble of getting a notarized letter from our son-in-law saying it was OK for the children to cross with one parent, but no one asked for it. On the second occasion we did not have such a letter and again no one asked for it. You really should be fine as long as the nine of you have passports or, as Michael noted, you have certified copies of the children's birth certificates in lieu of passports.

    As far as scheduling goes, my own experience is that having a set itinerary works best for large multi-generational groups such as yours. It simply leaves too much to chance (as you are already aware) to expect to be able to find accommodations for that many people on the fly. And the headache of dealing with tired and cranky children late in the evening is something you don't want to deal with. It may be a little late in your planning process now, but I would also heartily suggest that you look at renting full homes rather than motel rooms. Websites such as VRBO, HomeAway, and AirBnB have many options that can accommodate even groups as large as yours for a few nights to a week, often for less than you'd pay for three motel rooms, and they come with full kitchens and often laundry facilities as well.

    On a day-to-day basis, I like to plan about a half day's activities, that leaves time in each day for the serendipitous find while still having something to look forward too. Trust me, the kids will fill up the rest of the day without trouble and getting 'home' each night a little early to start relaxing will go a long way towards keeping everyone happy and content on such a long holiday. That's also why trying to see NYC as a day trip from the Hudson Valley or Pennsylvania as a day trip from the Historic Triangle of Virginia just won't work. You'd be spending way too much time simply getting to and from your day's destination to make the trip relaxing or enjoyable. Between Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, Busch Gardens, Virginia Beach, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, you will find plenty to do in that area for a week without trying to get all the way up to Pennsylvania and back (and presumably spend some time there!) in one day. As a general rule, I wouldn't plan on going anywhere more than an hour from my 'home base' as a day trip.

    Finally, as things get closer and if you need more specific suggestions for any given area, we can certainly offer suggestions. Here's one example. You say you're going to start your trip on PEI, but don't say how you're getting there. One 'trick' you should be aware of is that there are two ways (besides flying) onto the island, a ferry and a bridge. Kids love ferry rides and I would urge you to include that as one way between the mainland and the island, but preferably in that direction. Both the ferry and the bridge collect tariffs in one direction only, leaving the island, but the bridge is cheaper than the ferry. So you can save a bit of money by taking the ferry onto the island and the bridge off.

    AZBuck

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks AZBuck.

    Yes, passports for all.

    As far as accommodations we have vacation homes for all our longer stops. We do have hotels for nights when it is just a driving stop. I did several multiple rooms so we are all not trying to crowd in one to save a few dollars. Almost all lodging is done at this point. I have a few of our overnight stops to take care in the last part of our trip.

    I am perplexed about NY City & how to conquer it with such a large group. Like I said I have no issues about the kid's attitudes as we seem to be a lucky bunch here and have no one with real behavior issues - thank heavens! I feel they could handle a long day as this is maybe our only chance to see the city. I just don't want to drive in myself, yet want the kids to experience a little of it. Any other suggestions are welcome!!!!

    Now that I have secured lodging & planned the route I am in the process of planning some of the things we need advance registration for.
    I have ferries scheduled for Mackinac & Martha's Vineyard. I have Grand Hotel Lunch & horse drawn carriage tour set as well. I am looking into other area's activities in the next few days. You are so right...I do not want to plan so much that it takes away from our trip. I do not want to be a slave to a schedule the whole time.

    As for P.E.I. we are going across the Confederation Bridge. We are driving & our route actually starts in Oregon ( where we live). P.E.I. is just the first longer stay on the east coast. Sorry for the confusion.
    My kids are dying to drive that bridge - I won't tell you how I feel about long bridges over huge bodies of water - maybe I will just close my eyes. Plus we will be doing ferry at Mackinac, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket. Hopefully that will cover the ferry desire.

    I don't think we have many things planned as of now that are more than an hour away from any given lodging spot. I do need to work on the NY City thing some more.

    All in all our driving is broken up pretty well. We only have 2 long driving days 8-9 hours in the whole trip. Most of the others are 4-6 hours. Our long days are rewarded with multiple day stays once we arrive at location. We plan to stop often, have great car activities and are generally a pretty mellow group - I think that will definitely be a plus.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    For NYC, I highly suggest staying on the New Jersey side, such as in Paterson, Newark, or similar, and either riding the bus (cheaper) or the train into the city. The bus will go into the Port Authority, and the trains go into Grand Central Station. My husband and I took the bus from Willowbrook Mall, in Wayne NJ -- and if I recall, there were a number of motels in the area. You could either walk over to the bus loading area (which is in the middle of the Mall's parking lot), or take your cars and park there (free) near the bus area. If seeing the City on a weekday, as we did, it makes sense to take a bus at or a little after 9 am to avoid SRO in the bus, and to wait until after the workers on Manhattan go home (such as 7 pm or later) to catch the return bus. Yes, a long day, but we managed to see Times Square, the Broadway district, make our way on a subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge area, make our way back up to Lincoln Center, walk into Rockefeller Center, walk into St Patrick's Cathedral, gawk at Carnegie Hall. (We were supposed to return in order to see a couple of shows another day, but family emergency occurred and we never got to go.) But a couple of days, it can be done.

    The bus takes you through the Holland Tunnel, btw.

    Donna

  8. #8

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    Thank you DonnaR57. We are already scheduled for Tivoli. Staying on the NJ side is kinda out at this point, so trying to figure all this out. Everyone's suggestions add to my overall knowledge of this area which is very helpful, so thank you again.

    (Very claustrophobic I try and avoid any lengthy tunnel -especially under rivers.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default That letter.

    I too have travelled with my grandchildren out of country. I had a notarised letter on both occasions. First time no one asked for it, and I felt it a waste of time. Second time, I was asked, and as well as that, my 9 year old daughter was questioned as to where her parents were and why she and her sister were travelling with me. (I have to say, for a 9 year old she was most articulate in her responses.)


    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by letsgoamerica View Post
    As for P.E.I. we are going across the Confederation Bridge. We are driving & our route actually starts in Oregon ( where we live). P.E.I. is just the first longer stay on the east coast. Sorry for the confusion.
    My kids are dying to drive that bridge - I won't tell you how I feel about long bridges over huge bodies of water - maybe I will just close my eyes. Plus we will be doing ferry at Mackinac, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket. Hopefully that will cover the ferry desire.
    I think you missed the point of Buck's Advice. By all means, you should use the bridge, one direction, but since there are only 2 ways to get on or off PEI, you might as well use the other going the other direction. Since you only pay when you leave the island, it would be about $25 cheaper to leave via the Bridge, vs. the Ferry.

    After you come across the bridge (or before you leave it) you might consider driving over to Chelton Beach Prov. Park about 10 miles to the west of the Bridge. You can look at the Bridge, while playing in the red sands you'll find on the South Coast of PEI. There can also be some great tide pools filled with crabs and snails and the like, if your kids are interested in that sort of thing. The beach here is much more laid back, and it's got a very local park feel to it, compared to the much bigger and busier white sand beaches on the North Shore, up by the LMM sites.

    For LMM, we toured the "Green Gables" home, which is part of the Canadian National Parks system (You might consider getting a Family Discovery Pass which covers admission to all of Canada's National PArks and Historic Sites, depending upon where else in Canada you'll be visiting, although check the fine print for how many people it covers in your situation.) If you walk through the Haunted Woods, the trail actually takes you right to the cemetery where LMM is buried.

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